Monday, July 25, 2011

Portable EVSE? Inexpensive EVSE? You got it

Typically, electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) is installed at a specific location- in a garage. It becomes part of the home's infrastructure. This is an additional expense that drives up the cost of owning an EV.  Add the $2500 EVSE plus installation to the cost of buying a $10k battery, and potential EV owners probably get a bit discouraged. In addition, when he considers the limited public charging infrastructure, the would-be EV owner is likely abandon hopes of freeing himself from the grips of gasoline dependence.

Leviton and some clever modders have other plans.

Portable EVSE

As Nick Chambers reports over at, Leviton has released a portable EVSE that can plug right into a standard 220V receptacle. The Evr-Green Home Charging Station  This in effect means that EV owners will have access to a 120V portable charging as well as a portable $1049 level 2 EVSE thanks to Leviton.  Admittedly, owners do need to have a properly installed 240V NEMA 6-20R or NEMA 6-50R, receptacle, but the Evr-Green will provide additional options.

Inexpensive EVSE

And then there is the tuner's market- where people tinker and dabble until they come up with something quite impressive - a modified Nissan Leaf EVSE that can charge at 240V instead of the standard 120V.  Current stays the same at 15 amps, but you effectively get almost level 2 charging using a Level 1 EVSE.  Not bad for $239. Add in $25 for the 120V adapter (so you can still use it as a Level 1 EVSE) and you are pretty much set.

But wait, there's more! If you buy now you can also get a $48 upgrade to the EVSE's firmware that will allow the Nissan's onboard charger to pull 16 amps at 240V. So for $312 plus shipping, you can get Level 2 charging. Not bad, considering installing a standard Level 2 EVSE (not the Leviton mentioned above) could take months of permitting and cost upwards of $2500.

How is this possible? Many believe that the EVSE is a charger- that it actually controls the charging of an EV's battery. NOT SO!!! If that were true, we'd call it a charger! Instead, it is called an "electric vehicle supply equipment" because, well, it supplies power to the EV. The EV has an onboard charger that is responsible for making sure the batteries don't blow up. So why do we need these very expensive EVSEs? Because electricity is almost as dangerous and 15 gallons of explosive liquid swishing around behind your childrens' bottoms. So the EVSE does things like make sure that the EV's onboard charger only pulls the amount of juice that is safely available, and that when your clumsy self trips over the power cable, you don't set  yourself on fire or give yourself some serious palpitations. EVSEs are really just 99 cent extension cords with a $1000 computer attached.

And for those of you without an existing 240V line, I submit to you the Quick 220 Voltage Converting Power Supply

Just combine 2 independent 120V lines and, well, you're running out of excuses not to buy an EV...

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